Five stunning MTV Unplugged albums that sold over one million 

A look at five high selling MTV Unplugged albums, but just how unplugged were they?
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MTV Unplugged continually amazes us all with the number of top-selling albums that came from the series. It upheld the quality of live music albums in the 1990s and for years after. Well over 80 million albums from the series have been sold. The top ten sellers from the series astonishingly made up over 70 million of those sales. The next five MTV Unplugged albums on a ranked sales list all have over one million in sales.

That's an outrageous level of success which was surely well beyond the expectations of producers Robert Small and Jim Burns. The pair put their idea in place back in 1989 with the very first MTV Unplugged show. At the outset, their thinking was based on stripped-back acoustic performances with no or minimal electrics involved. 

That concept saw some variation and stretching over the years raising a question or two about some of the albums that followed. A few of these five albums, just below the top ten, certainly make you think twice about it. They all came from the Unplugged TV series and most carried the name, but just how unplugged were they really?  

Five MTV Unplugged albums with more than one million in sales

Let's take a closer look at those next five MTV Unplugged albums on the ranking list. This is based on worldwide sales as recorded online at Best Selling Albums. Again, if your favorite artist or unplugged album isn’t here, then they just didn't sell more than the 1m copies needed to hit the top fifteen. 

Tony Bennett - MTV Unplugged -  1.05 million (copies sold)

This is a more true-to-the-concept unplugged album. But then when was Tony Bennett ever really plugged in and wired up to the max anyway? This small affair with Bennett and his backing trio is close to normal anyway. Nor was there much need for lots of rearrangements of the songs. His classic numbers here were perfect for this approach.

Bennett was aged 67 when this was recorded in 1994. The bulk of his musical career was seemingly behind him but with bags of experience to hand. Unplugged helped remarket him and extend that career for longer, while remaining cool and respected by all. 

The album has him paired up at times with Elvis Costello and then k.d. lang. His links with current artists and MTV Unplugged continued over the years. Bennett’s last TV appearance was back on the show in 2021 appearing with Lady Gaga. 

 Bennett’s unplugged album was crammed with top tunes, 22 of them in fact. The majority are American Songbook classics. At times it was just like Bennett was back as a lounge room singer in a small venue. But that's a bonus for us as listeners, not by any means a criticism. The album has sold just above a million copies, a testament to its quality. It also brought the 1995 Record Of The Year Grammy Award to Bennett.

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